Quentin Tarantino’s newest film is, in my opinion, a masterpiece.
A love letter to old Hollywood, westerns and the death of the sixties, this is a three-hour film in which absolutely nothing happens until the last fifteen minutes. And it’s captivating. Half a character study and half a breakdown of Hollywood’s folly Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood certainly isn’t a thrill ride. There are some particularly tense scenes around halfway through and the ending is absolute madness, but it makes you feel things.
Tarantino is rather well known for playing to people’s emotions – perfectly prepared to piss people off in the name of his vision, many of his films have been known to upset and offend. This is one particular project though doesn’t go that route. It focuses on characters, people that pretty much anyone can get behind.
We follow two central characters; fading western star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his loyal stunt double Cliff Boothe (Brad Pitt). Dalton is a relic – a symbol of the golden age of Hollywood. Previously a western king, he’s found himself reduced to bit parts, depressed and drunk, looking to regain his former glory. You feel such sympathy for Dalton, not because of the loss of his career, but because he’s lost his sense of self, something most people experience at some point.
Cliff on the other hand has found himself relegated to Dalton’s driver and odd job man.
Cliff, in many ways, is the audience’s surrogate. He sees the glitz and the glamour and the impermanence of it all. The every man, he’s often at ground level, walking or driving, living in a caravan with his loyal dog Brandi (who is one of the best characters in the film) and just getting on with it. He sees Hollywood for what it is – a town on the edge of violence, whether its in film or on the streets. One of his pinnacle moments sees his interactions with Charles Manson’s cult of followers; a fantastic, tense scene where you get to witness the brutality that Tarantino wants to push – the incredible violence of denial.
This is one of Pitt’s best roles. He’s phenomenal and you can’t take your eyes off him. DiCapri is on form as well, providing a fragile, emotional performance of a man who is forced to watch as his career crumbles.
I don’t want to talk too much about this, because I could honestly write you an essay. In fact, I just might, with a massive SPOILER warning at the top. But until then, I don’t want to give to much away.
Just go and watch this film. It’s actually fantastic and you honestly won’t regret it.